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Funeral held for fallen Ponca Hills firefighter Dennis Bender

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 21:45:20-04

FORT CALHOUN, Neb. (KMTV) — After his death last week, Dennis Bender was honored one last time on Tuesday. His family and loved ones held a funeral at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun.

Those who attended the service celebrated Bender's life and all his contributions to his community, including his 50 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Ponca Hills Volunteer Fire Department.

"We all know that Dennis was one of the most active members of our department. He lived so close to the fire station that he made most of the calls, all the drills and he was on many truck committees, purchasing committees...if it was done at Ponca Hills, he was part of it," said Bender's friend Mike Fitzgerald.

During the service, the priest made clear how Bender was loved and a part of numerous communities as was evidenced by those in attendance.

Fellow firefighters said Bender helped train Ponca Hills' new classes of firefighters and paramedics.

"Once you became a member of the fire department, he would take you through the squad, show you where everything is, teach you everything that had to be done on the call and really just have you prepared so when a paramedic would ask for something you’d have it. Within the last five years, we’ve had many new members and each one of them are better off as EMTs or paramedics because of Denny," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said it's going to take all of them to come together to fill the gap that Bender left.

"I’ve said this before, that we are more than a group of firefighters and EMS providers...we are a family and we are strong and we are Ponca hills," Fitzgerald said.